The Safety Risks Associated with Long-Haul Truck Driving


Almost 70% of long-haul truck drivers are classified as obese (BMI of 30 or higher)

17% morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or higher) ₁ (Source: CDC, NIOSH)

In 2010, NIOSH performed a study that asked long-haul truck drivers about self-reported health conditions and health and safety risk factors. Performed at 32 truck stops across country, it was found that almost 70% of the 1,670 participants were defined as obese by a body mass index of 30 or higher and 17% were morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or higher). This is over double the average of U.S. working adults (approx. 33% obese, 7% morbidly obese₂). Chances of type-2 diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer, heart disease, joint and back pain and stroke all increase with obesity.

Another discovery through the survey was that more than half of the participants were smokers (51%), again over double the general working population (19%). Smoking increases the chance of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. Over half of the drivers that participated had at least 2 of these health conditions or unhealthy behaviors: smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, minimal physical activity or less than 6 hours of sleep. All of which increase the likelihood of developing disease.

The impact of long hours, poor diet and minimal physical activity and sleep on long-haul truck drivers can be very difficult to overcome and those that rely on their commercial driving license to make a living have the most to lose. The direct costs that arise due to these health concerns can be massive. Exertion injuries including bending, crawling, sitting, standing or walking accounted for $4.27 billion or 7.2% or the total injury burden in 2012₃. Health and safety interventions should be put into place for these high risk individuals, alongside a quality wellness program to help alleviate these risks. Utilizing resources such as the CDC, NIOSH and customized education and wellness programs through Fit2WRK is a step towards a healthier, safer and more productive workforce.


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  3. 3. 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index (WSI)